Jamaican regulator may split

25 Jul 2011

Jamaica’s Prime Minister Bruce Golding has announced plans for a new, independent telecoms regulator. The regulation of telecommunications currently comes under the remit of the office of utilities regulation (OUR), which also handles transport, power and water, and the PM said that the telecoms sector is ‘so important and dynamic and peculiar that we felt it was important…to be separate from the other areas of utilities regulation’. One of the greatest difficulties facing the new regulator will be to reaffirm the importance of competition in a market which is moving back towards a near-monopoly. Earlier this year, it was announced that Digicel would acquire America Movil’s Claro Jamaica in exchange for its holdings in El Salvador and Honduras. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, at the end of March 2011 Digicel Jamaica had a mobile market share of 60.3%, and Claro had 18.8%. The combined company would have 2.6 million of Jamaica’s 3.4 million wireless subscribers. No timeline was announced for establishing the new watchdog but according to a local news outlet, it is likely to emerge after a new telecommunications act is drafted, after Golding referred to the current act as ‘obsolete’.